Radical Reads

Toronto’s tech talent advantage

By Editorial Team


Image Source: The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Toronto has been ranked the number one market for high-tech job growth. Growing at 26%, the city beat out Seattle, Vancouver, and New York in the annual CBRE Tech-30 report. The real estate group ranks the 30 leading tech markets in the US and Canada. 

Toronto added more high-tech jobs in the last two years (40,000) than the rest of the top-30. The high-tech sector employs 192,000 people in both software and services, making up 20% of the office-using jobs in the city. Waterloo and Ottawa were noted in the report as the top two “Next 10 markets to watch.” In terms of absolute numbers, only the Bay Area has more tech employees than the combined Toronto-Waterloo region. 

Despite the region’s expanding tech talent, Toronto ranked last on dollars raised-per-technical employee in 2020, with approximately $4,300 raised per head, compared to $130,000 in the Bay Area. 

While the growth in investment has broken records the past few years, the aggregate amount raised by Toronto companies still lags behind the Bay Area and even the smaller talent market of Los Angeles.

Closing this gap in capital was a fundamental reason for creating Radical Ventures. We witnessed first-hand many of the brightest minds in AI flocking to Toronto and Canada after the creation of the Vector Institute and the world’s first national AI strategy, but struggling to raise VC investment locally.

The tide, however, is turning. Untether AIWaabi and Cohere are all Toronto-based AI companies that have attracted some of the top AI talents in the world and raised significant investment rounds in 2021. Toronto is outperforming on AI talent, and over the next ten years we expect capital to follow.

AI News This Week

  • Will this generation of “climate tech” be different?  (Forbes)

    In his AI column in Forbes, Radical Ventures Partner Rob Toews argues the current generation of climate tech entrepreneurs and investors are building companies that will rival Google and Amazon. At the COP26 climate summit last week, nations pledged to reduce high environmental impact activities like deforestation and methane emissions. Although these commitments have been described as “unprecedented,” a UN climate gathering in New York in 2014 issued similar declarations with limited impact. Entrepreneurs and startups using technology to tackle climate change through efficiencies and fundamental breakthroughs in areas like electricity generation, energy storage, carbon removal and sustainable transportation may be a crucial driver to achieve these pledges.

  • A former Uber executive takes a fresh approach to self-driving vehicles   (Wall Street Journal – subscription required)

    This week, Raquel Urtasun, Founder and CEO of Radical Ventures portfolio company Waabi, was profiled in the Wall Street Journal. The feature comes on the heels of Raquel and several of her colleagues being awarded the Mark Everingham Prize at the 2021 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision for their work on the KITTI Vision Benchmark Suite. The Everingham prize is awarded to the team for a selfless contribution of significant benefit to other members of the computer vision community. The benchmark suite has enabled breakthroughs in self-driving technologies with the goal to reduce bias and complement existing benchmarks by providing real-world benchmarks with novel difficulties to the community.

  • Untether touts “At-memory” architecture, promising efficiency and performance at the edge  (Forbes)

    Machine learning can require significant computation power and energy to run. In typical chip architecture, gaining twice the performance has often needed four times the power. At-memory computation enables reduced power consumption and increased throughput. Radical Ventures portfolio company, Untether AI, aims to set a new bar for AI computation with ultra-efficient, high-performance AI chips enabling new frontiers for energy and performance-intensive AI applications.

  • Report: Enterprise use of AI to predict cash flow expected to increase 450%   (VentureBeat)

    Enterprises are increasingly deploying AI and machine learning for cash flow forecasting, with a 450% increase expected over the next two years. The recently released 2021 Cash Forecasting & Visibility Survey includes 250 enterprises across industries, highlighting a growing appetite for AI/ML modernization among finance and treasury teams seeking more accurate and immediate cash flow forecasts. Improving forecasting is critical for determining business direction and priorities. Today’s enterprises are embracing new technology strategies and refining methods to introduce greater automation and efficiency.

  • As the Arctic warms, AI forecasts scope out shifting sea ice  (Wired)

    The Arctic air and water has warmed three times faster than the rest of the planet since 1971, according to a May 2021 report by the Arctic Council, and this warming is causing the ice to expand and contract in unpredictable ways. Scientists and research firms are now using tools powered by AI to bring more certainty to sea ice movement. The ocean’s surface is a dynamic zone that has been difficult to predict with existing physics models. Forecasting sea ice is increasingly valuable for tribal members in the Arctic, commercial fishers, and global shipping companies interested in taking shortcuts through open patches of water. Climate change has added another layer of uncertainty. Radical Ventures portfolio company, ClimateAi, leverages best-in-class weather simulations and AI to make better weather predictions starting at 2 weeks and stretching to 10 years.

Radical Reads is edited by Leah Morris (Senior Director, Velocity Program, Radical Ventures).